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Posts Tagged ‘bootleg’

Q*bert bootleg artwork added, only took two years!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

One thing I’ve learned in this hobby is that patience really pays off in the long run. Sometimes a new or interesting piece of arcade artwork will pop up for sale on eBay and you just-gotta-have-it! Letting your emotions control your buying decisions can be an expensive proposition, so I like to evaluate the piece and determine the maximum I’ll spend. Then I set my snipe software and walk away. If I win great, if not I’ve learned that there is a good chance a similar item will show up for sale. I’ll wait it out. OF course this technique won’t work with any rare NOS artwork, so don’t let that stuff slip away 🙂

Q*bert cpo

Take this little gem for example. Pretty easy to recognize, it’s Q*bert! At least I think so… The nose isn’t quite right, those feet are too long, the swearing balloon text is all mixed up and the other characters have issues as well. Insert token to continue…

Astro Attack a bootleg version of Astro Fighter!

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

While on the hunt for NOS Willis and bootleg artwork, I will occasionally find some wacky artwork that has already been applied to a cabinet. It makes sense of course, as that’s what the stuff was meant for. Arcade game artwork isn’t always lying around some old, dusty, operators warehouse, sometimes the stuff was actually used as it was intended! It’s fun to find these odd ball cabinets as part of the mystery is figuring out exactly what it is, or what it was. Such is the case in this recent find by avid collector “jehuie” (his KLOV ID) out in Martinez CA. The game had been posted for sale on his local craigslist, but he never had time to check it out…until it was relisted as FREE and kicked to the curb! Free is good and in this case it’s a great thing, as he saved a game that is not listed in the arcade museum archives. I’m a big fan of preserving arcade history and it would have been a shame if this cab had met its end at the dump.

Astro Attack

The first thing that grabs you is the blatant Star Wars X-Wing imagery plastered all over the control panel, bezel and marquee. Why not? If you’re going to make a bootleg game you might as well slap some artwork on it that people recognize. It would get a few tokens for the art at least, while the gamer attempts to figure out what, if anything, Astro Attack has to do with the iconic franchise we all know and love.

John was able to get the game working pretty fast, “I actually got it going late last night. One of the circuit boards wasn’t seated in the edge connector properly and then the vertical hold needed adjusting but then it popped right in. Not a game I’ve ever seen before. The marquee is interesting. Each letter has a separate bulb and they alternate turning on and off randomly making a kinda cool effect. I’ll try to get some video or something later today if I have time.” He did have some time and shared this video with the collecting community. Pretty interesting how the marquee lights flash on and off, probably with the use of “blinker” bulbs. Might be a little distracting during game play, but still cool. (refresh the page if you don’t see the video)

John determined that the game play is identical to Astro Fighter by Sega/Gremlin/DECO. Interesting to note that the SEGA/Gremlin version of the Astro Fighter flyer has some blatant rip-off going on as well, beam me up Scotty! The game was released by a bunch of sources, perhaps that made it ripe for bootlegging, who knows? The cabinet has a simple design with an odd upright coin box and single slot coin mechanism. Done cheaply to keep costs down I’d imagine. Maybe it’s the Star Wars artwork, but I like the cabinet and would have dropped in a token or two to give it a try.

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The printed circuit board mounts on the side of the cabinet, in a cage that doesn’t look like it was meant to go there. You can see slots in the wood that would fit a larger pcb. So is this pcb a bootleg or an actual Astro Fighter pcb? Tough to tell, as Astro Fighter pcb images from the internet vary. The monitor is nicely mounted with the chassis positioned on the side of the cab for easy maintenance. Everything inside the cab looks original and the overall clean, unhacked look of the cabinet got me thinking. Maybe this generic cab would accept a number of different bootleg games. Just mount a new pcb and connect the harness to the existing cab harness with those molex connectors. No hacking or rewiring necessary, just a new control panel and some new artwork. That would make this a pretty sophisticated bootleg cab, as it was made specifically for that purpose, with multiple games in mind. A multi-bootleg? I suppose the millions of dollars being made in the 1980’s on coin-op would have brought out all the scammers!

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Of course I’m just speculating about this cabinet and its origins. If you know any facts about this cabinet or have seen other games in this style of cabinet, I’d love to know about it or see some pictures. Use the contact joystick and drop me a line.

Moon Ranger ~ Bootleg Moon Patrol

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Found a folder labeled “Moon Patrol” in this big stash of operator paperwork, but upon closer inspection it contained some cool color instruction cards for Moon Ranger, a bootleg of Moon Patrol.

instr card

According to KLOV the game sounds identical to moon patrol in every way, they even stole graphics from the Williams game for the instruction card. Bootleg games were a big problem for manufacturers back in the 80’s when arcades were booming. Why pay top dollar for a Moon Patrol when you could get a cheaper conversion kit for Moon Ranger? I also found this sticker inside the folder, just another instruction card with some hints of Engrish, perhaps for a cocktail table version of the game. Pretty fun stuff.

instr card

Q*bert bootleg spotted on eBay

Monday, April 19th, 2010

There was an interesting Q*bert bootleg on eBay this past week. I had never seen one quite like it before, as someone had incorporated the swearing from the swearing marquee variation into the cpo. It appeared to be a well done bootleg and was in great shape. I liked it.

Q*bert cpo

Unfortunately a bunch of other bidders liked it too! My meager bid of just under $23 wasn’t nearly enough to win this cpo that almost hit $60. Pretty crazy IMHO since it is just a bootleg piece and not original. Perhaps someone is just adding it to their artwork collection. 🙂

Bootleg Crystal Castles cpo

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I purchased this one from a fellow collector along with a handful of other Willis overlays. I’ve seen it in pictures on other sites but have never had a chance to examine it closely. It is supposedly for crystal castles by Atari and I have no reason to doubt that. One thing is certain though, it’s not a Willis product.

crystal castles cpo

Besides lacking all of the usual clues that identify a Willis overlay (can you name them all yet?), it is one flimsy piece of art. Cheaply made and probably one of the thinnest overlays I have in the archive. (more…)

Bootleg Moon Patrol cpo

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

I’ll be polite and call this one interesting. Someone decided to bootleg a moon patrol control panel overlay, using the reverse screen process, 3M adhesive and die cuts for the buttons and joystick. Unfortunately they neglected the most important part, the artwork.

moon patrol cpo

I’m not sure why so much effort was put into this bootleg, perhaps it was for one of the foreign made knock-off pcb kits that were so popular with some operators. Maybe it was just for a local group of operators that had a half dozen or more Williams Moon Patrols needing fresh overlays. (more…)

Bootleg Elevator Action cpo

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Another collector tipped me off about a Willis Elevator Action overlay for sale at the Eldorado Games website. I bought it because I had never seen the Willis version before, only the bootleg Spy Agent version. Well, I still haven’t seen one because this overlay is a bootleg.

EA cpo

How do I know? There are lots of reasons, the first one is that Willis never copied existing work. (more…)

Q*bert bootleg CPO

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

When I think about Q*bert, I think distinctive yellow cabinet, hopping orange character and colorful bad guys that might cause the occasional @!#?@! to escape your lips while playing. I certainly don’t think drugged out green guys wearing shades, pink pigs or snakes. Someone did though, as can be seen in this bootleg version of a Q*bert control panel overlay.

While the artwork leaves something to be desired, at least the production quality of the overlay is good. 3M adhesive backed paper and clean die cuts for the buttons and joysticks. There are no markings anywhere on the overlay, so this gets filed under bootleg in the archive. If anyone has more information or has seen one in the wild, drop me a line! Happy gaming.

Spy Agent or Bootleg Elevator Action cpo

Friday, December 25th, 2009

I’ve always thought that this control panel overlay was the Willis version of Elevator Action. At least that’s what I had been told and never had any reason to doubt the claim. Until one day when the KLOV “machine of the day” was a Spy Agent. Whoa, that’s the Willis EA overlay, what gives?

After some more investigating, it appears as if the overlay is a bootleg for Elevator Action. The first picture is an overlay I found available at QuarterArcade and the second a copy I own. The QA copy has some text on the middle right that I can’t quite make out, unfortunately, as it might shed some light on the true manufacturer of the kit. The cabinet picture is from KLOV and shows the overlay installed on a Taito cabinet control panel. According to KLOV, Spy Agent made by Taito, is a bootleg of Elevator Action. Huh? Elevator Action was made by Taito. Why would you bootleg your own game? Since Spy Agent was a bootleg and seems to have been a conversion kit, I’m guessing Willis had nothing to do with it. The overlay is missing all the tell tale signs. If you have any more information, post a comment.

Stash of donated artwork arrives at my door!

Monday, November 16th, 2009

I connected with another video game collector recently, Steve23, located in Georgia. I had referenced a Wico catalog, on my resource page in response to Steve’s Willis side art post on KLOV. He liked my efforts to preserve a little bit of the history behind the video game industry and messaged me. After a brief discussion via messages, Steve offered to donate a box of miscellaneous artwork to my preservation cause; very generous. (more…)